Do balloons have any eco credentials?

You’re planning a big celebration and you REALLY want balloons at your party (because a party isn’t a party without balloons, right?!) But they’ve got a reputation for being bad for the environment, so you want to feel like you’re making the right choices. It’s a dilemma.

The world is becoming more environmentally aware. The balloon industry are keen to do our part. We’re looking to work in environmentally friendly ways and use biodegradable materials. There’s an assumption that balloons are no more than throwaway rubbish so we want to help you make more eco-friendly decisions when choosing balloons for your occasions and events!

There are 3 main types of balloons you can choose from:

  • Foil (below, left)

These are actually made from nylon, covered with an aluminium coating and then sprayed with a dye. They’re not biodegradable, but they can be reused.

  • Plastic (above, right)

Typically known within the industry as bubbles, these are made from plastic and are not biodegradable or recyclable.

  • Latex (below, left)

100% natural latex balloons are bio-degradable and compostable and should decompose at roughly the same rate as an oak leaf (depending on humidity, sunlight etc). The latex is extracted from living rubber trees grown in plantations that are Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM by cutting the bark and collecting the sap that is released. Once a balloon has been inflated it immediately begins to degrade through a process called oxidation, where the balloon loses its shine and instead becomes velvety in appearance and more brittle in texture. I use professional standard latex balloons which are produced by Pioneer Balloon Company.

So, latex balloons are a great compromise but you can go even further by swapping the traditional ribbons for natural jute string. This gives a more rustic look and can also be reused or recycled. Or instead of a foil wrapped or plastic weight you could opt for a sand filled latex balloon wrapped in fabric or placed inside a small cardboard box.

As a final bonus, if you choose to include foil or plastic balloons in your decor, you can return the used balloons to me after their event for responsible recycling or disposal!

Hopefully this has shown that there are several ways to have amazing balloon décor at your event whilst keeping your conscience clear! If you want to chat through the options available to you, feel free to get in touch and we can discuss ways to bring your event alive in the greenest way possible.

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Claire Carney is a freelance florist and Certified Balloon Artist based near Norwich. For more information please visit www.clairesfloralandballoondesigns.co.uk.